Navy Times has this piece on the court-martial for a dereliction of duty charge against a master diver relating to the training deaths of two divers.
The services released a joint report on sexual assault at the US military academies, see AP coverage here and report here (link currently unavailable, DoD SAPR service academies reports page here). And it’s bad news for athletes at the academies as the report is highly critical of their behavior, accordionng to the AP report:
A culture of bad behavior and disrespect among athletes at U.S. military academies is one part of the continuing problem of sexual assaults at the schools, according to a new Defense Department report that comes in the wake of scandals that rocked teams at all three academies last year.
In Edward Snowden news, The Hill reports here that the House Intelligence Committee says that they have a report from DoD showing terrorists are changing tactics, and putting US troops at risk, in light of the revelations by Snowden.
DoD’s panel to study sexual assault and military justice policy is apparently meeting behind closed doors, even when hearing from just legal experts. Coverage here (US News). According to the article, the panel known as the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel (or 576 Panel, for the section of the NDAA that created it), says it isn’t subject to open meeting rules, which is a non-sensical reason for not holding open meetings. Transcripts of panel and subcommittee meetings are available on the website, see e.g. a Jan. 8, 2014 meeting of the Role of the Commander subcommittee meeting here. Monthly public meetings are held, including one to be held on Jan. 30, 2014 on the role of the commander, though the site of the hearing hasn’t been announced yet. For full disclosure, several current and former NIMJ leaders are members of the Panel or it’s subcommittees, including former NIMJ President Professor Elizabeth Hillman.
The Navy may dismiss charges against one ofbteo remaining former Midshipmen football players accused of sexual assault due to a failed rights advisement reports the Blatimore Sun here.
Navy has established a consolidated disposition authority for non-criminal misconduct arising from the Glen Defense Marine Asia scandal (or as we call it Fat Leonard-gate) reports Navy Times here.
A Navy environmental sturdy in Naples may help prosecute Italian mob figures acc used of dumping toxic waste. Stripes coverage here.
Afghan President Karzai still plans to release potentially dangerous prisoners reports WaPo here, and potentially impacting the long term security agreement between the US and Afghans. Prior coverage here.
Hard to tell if this was an early Christmas gift for General Sinclair or a lump of coal in his stocking:
A soldier who had an affair with a Fort Bragg general found numerous emails and voice messages from him on an old phone last month, prompting a delay in his court-martial.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair faces charges that include forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and adultery. His court-martial was scheduled to begin Tuesday but has been pushed back to March 4.
The charges stem from allegations that Sinclair twice sexually assaulted a captain with whom he had a three-year affair and that he had inappropriate relationships with five other women, including some subordinates.
The captain, who served with Sinclair in Iraq and Afghanistan, said during a pre-trial motions hearing Tuesday that she found an iPhone that she stopped using years ago in a cluttered box on Dec. 9. She found messages from Sinclair, including some under his alias of “Nathan,” and immediately turned the phone over to Army investigators.
Report via WRAL.com, here.
Our #2 story of the year was the court-martial of Major Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter. We ended last year with CAAF granting a petition for extraordinary relief and removing the military judge and ordering a new one be assigned. Col Tara Osburn, USA, was then assigned. Major Hasan’s court-martial was last year’s number two story of 2012.
For all the tragedy of the victims and court-room drama leading up to the trial, the trial itself was relatively uneventful. The defense rested without putting on any evidence. Major Hasan acknowledged he was the shooter at the beginning of the trial. He was convicted of 13 specifications of premeditated murder and 32 specifications of attempted murder. He was sentenced to death after less than two hours of deliberations.
The trial was most notable for Major Hasan’s decision to represent himself. After firing his lawyers, the MJ granted his request to represent himself. His counsel, who continued to be available to assist him, described his actions as a “working towards the death penalty” according to the Washington Post.
I once did extensive research, attempting to look at all Article 118(1) & 118(4) cases preferred since 1984 to identify predictors of convening authorities’ decisions to refer cases capitally and on members awarding death as a punishment. We started with the thought that perhaps there were racial trends we could identify. What we found was the unsurprising conclusion that the number one predictor of capital referrals and capital sentences in Article 118(1) cases was multiple victims. That certainly held true in Major Hasan’s case.
Of course, Major Hasan will receive automatic review from the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. As this CNN report points out, the reversal rate for death-penalty cases in the military on direct review is very high. This report cites a 82% reversal. These numbers are since 1984, when President Reagan implemented R.C.M. 1004.
One issue that lurks in the case highlights some of the paternalism that still lingers in the military-justice system. Major Hasan attempted to plead guilty, but his plea was rejected by the MJ. Article 45(b), UCMJ prohibits a guilty plea to a capital offense. In theory, this denied Major Hasan the mitigating effects of a guilty plea. Is it remotely conceivable that ACCA or CAAF will rule Article 45(b), UCMJ unconstitutional and reverse? Probably not, but if they did, it would probably make our top ten list in future years.
Number three this year looks a lot like #3 last year, the PFC Manning case has been a media darling, earning multiple spots on our top ten list. But alas Bradley Manning’s time in the spotlight has run its course. His case finally made its way to court-martial and resulted in a sentence of confinement for 35 years, report here. While his supporters may bring the case back to life when the appellate process starts to drag on, and it will, for now we may have seen the end of 24/7 Manning coverage around the globe. Here’s a recap of this year’s festivities.
Read more »
Sen Gillibrand’s MilJus reforms ended up on the cutting room floor of the new NDAA compromise worked out last night. Here is The Hill’s report. The bill does contain major MilJus changes, including elimination of the CA’s power to overturn members’ verdicts and mandadtory DDs for certain Art. 120 convictions.
A mini mutiny over poor leadership leads to courts martial in the UK army. Telegraph report here.
Here (Daily Mail) is an interesting story out of the UK.
Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 39, is a decorated war hero with a record of selfless courage on tours of duty in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the time he killed the badly-wounded insurgent in Afghanistan in September 2011, he was still mourning the death of his father.
Blackman, who is married and from Taunton, Somerset, faces life in prison when he is sentenced today. He was finally named yesterday after losing a year-long legal battle to keep his identity secret.
He is the first British soldier convicted of murder on active service abroad since the Second World War.
Last night the publication of his name following a High Court ruling led to a wave of calls for leniency and a special Facebook page being set up to back him.
The Master Sergeant who alleged used an on base prostitution ring, but in the end never went through with the act, was sentenced to a reduction to E-7 and a reprimand. Ft. hood press release here. The unit SAPR coordinator that led the ring has still not been charged.
The job of repatriating prisoners at Gitmo must be surreal. This saga (Miami Herald) is reminiscent of the Roman Moroney’s deportation in Johnny Dangerously (see speech here [questionable language]), when he famously quipped that he’s “not from there.”
In the not so bright criminals category:
Petty Officer 2nd Class David Karl Becker told a few of his fellow Navy SEALs last year he had a surefire way for them to make some extra money, federal investigators said.
All they had to do was pocket some ammunition and maybe a smoke grenade or two during their field exercises, he said, according to court documents. Later, they would tell their supervisors they used it all.
Virginian Pilot story here.
From the Air Force Times here:
Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson will now exercise oversight of the confidential informant program at the academy following a media report alleging that cadets have been victimized by investigators.
This follows an earlier report by the Colorado Springs Gazette, here, that OSI disavowed one of its informants after he got in trouble at the Academy.
It is not on the website yet, but a tipster tells us that the Navy JAG is getting on the sexual assault based reform of military justice bandwagon. ALNAV 080/13 issues an amendment to the JAGMAN that requires Art. 32 investigating officers in sexual assault cases be a judge advocate. It also requires that in all other cases the default IO should be a judge advocate and a line officer be used in only exceptional cases.
More coverage from UPI, here, and the Killeen Daily Herald, here, on the alleged prostitution ring run by a unit sexual assault prevention officer at Ft. Hood and the court-martial of a Master Sergeant client of the organization.
More on Fat Leonard-gate from WaPo here.
An alleged prostitution ring leads to the court-martial of an alleged client, but no charges yet against the ringleader. Killeen Daily Herald report here.
Sens. McCaskill and Ayotte pen article supporting their military sexual assault amendments to the NDAA and panning other proposed reforms to strip all CA power in sexual ssault and serious felony cases. USA Today article here. One provision I had missed is the mandatory DD for sexual assault. This abandons the indeterminate sentencng scheme that has been a hallmark of the UCMJ. I wonder if Congress as given thought to what that means for the system as a whole. Does it implicate Apprendi concerns? I’ll need to give that some thought.
And this National National Journal article questions whether any of the reforms will make it through the process fven the current broader budget battle.
When is an attorney taking pictures of their own client newsworthy? At Gitmo. Miami Herald cverage here.
“Pretty’ soldier controversy results in removal of one officer and internal TRADOC investigation. Army Times coverage here.
A former Army pilot was sentenced to close to two years in jail for stealing more than $1 million in spare parts from the government during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Watertow Daily Times reports here on the sentencing in Fayetteville.
Air Force Times reports here that more than 100 retired generals have signed on to voice opposition to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s. As the article notes, there are two competing proposals from Democratic Senators:
The 2013 Military Justice Improvement
Act, authored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., would move the decision whether to prosecute any crime punishable by one year or more to military attorneys. Commanders would still be responsible for deciding whether to send to court-martial 37 offenses, such as disobeying orders or being absent without leave.
The bill is the more controversial of two that propose changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice aimed at reducing sexual assault across the services.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has proposed a bill that would leave the power to prosecute crimes within the chain of command but strip commanders of the authority to change or dismiss a court-martial verdict except when the offenses are minor. It would also require a convening authority to hear from a victim before modifying a sentence — and provide a written explanation for any changes.
. Bahrain says it captured two suspected terrorist plotters who were previously held at Gitmo, Miami Herald report here. This is only the latest example of former Gitmo residents turning to the cause orb terrorism, see e.g. this Wiki page (which I can’t vouch forbthe accuracy).
First, in case you are looking to change jobs or for something to do after you successfully defend against removal from your job and an improper mental health referral, CAAF has job openings, here.
Odd reports comesng out on the DOD IG’s potential resolution of Maj Weirick’s complaint against the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Here is a Marine Corps Times story relating a WSJ story and why it is that the DOD IG investigation only addresses favoritism allegations and not the broader unlawful command influence allegations.
Sen. Kirsten Gillinrand’s alternative legislation to amendt the UCMJ failed to make it to a vote. See Rochester Democrat report here. The Senate will take up the Authorization bill and possibly her amendment on Dec 9th.
Another Navy officer’s career is tanked by the Fat Leonard bribery scandal, here.
Some lawmakers are concerned about. unscrupulous consumer practices, particularly home lending, targeting servicemembers, here.
Here is an opinion piece from the woman that a panel of members at Aviano AFB found was the victim of a sexual assault by LTC Wilkerson. The panel’s decision was set aside by the convening authority . . . and the rest is history.
Sen. McCaskill discusses her more modest proposal for military justice reform here:
McCaskill argued that because commanders would be stripped of the decision to prosecute in Gillibrand’s bill, the measure would fail to hold them accountable.
“We just had a fundamental policy difference on whether or not it was going to help victims more to hold the commander accountable or to allow them to walk away,” she said.
From the Coast Guard a conviction for sexual assault in Alameda from the Alameda Patch here. There are at least 10 different ways lawmakers in the Capitol could misconstrue what possibly happened here.
Fireman Elmer Molina, 25, was stationed at the Coast Guard Training Center in Petaluma at the time of the two assaults and the alleged assault, and he had previous sexual relationships with the three women that he knew from the Coast Guard bases in Alameda and Petaluma, Chief Warrant Officer and Coast Guard spokesman Donnie Brzuska said Friday afternoon.
Molina was convicted on Nov. 9 of a sexual assault on Nov. 4, 2012, in the victim’s Rohnert Park apartment, and of an April 5, 2013, sexual assault at his residence at 7788 Bridgit Drive in Rohnert Park, Brzuska said.
The sexual assault allegations first surfaced after a female Coast Guard member reported Molina raped her in a Rohnert Park hotel room in March 2012, Brzuska said.
The Coast Guard launched a comprehensive investigation, but Molina was ultimately found not guilty of that allegation, Brzuska said.
But during the investigation of the alleged rape in March 2012, the Coast Guard learned about the Nov. 4, 2012, and April 5, 2013, sexual assaults, Brzuska said.
. . . .
A military jury sentenced Molina on Nov. 9 to a bad conduct discharge, reduction to the lowest enlisted pay grade, 60-days’ restriction and 90 days of hard labor without confinement, Brzuska said.
In unrelated news from Politico, here, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced yesterday:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will seek a floor vote on her original military sexual assault proposal after supporters threatened to abandon the New York Democrat’s effort if she made changes that weakened it.
“We’re going to stick to the original plan because it’s a better bill,” Gillibrand said Sunday on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ referring to an amendment that would overhaul the Pentagon’s military justice system by removing the chain of command from all major military crimes.
Military.com reports, here, on a POGO letter to SecDef asking him to remove the head of DoD’s sexual assault response effort.
A government watchdog — the Project on Government Oversight — sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asking him to remove Maj. Gen. Gary S. Patton from his command of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office at the Pentagon.
The letter cites a report by the Department of Defense Inspector General which found Patton, who was then the deputy commander of an Afghan training mission, had “restricted subordinates from communicating with IG investigators [in an investigation unrelated to the sexual assault issues his office is now addressing].”
In a page taken from Law and Order, an accused officer will argue that his identical twin brother is the source of DNA found in sexual assault cases involving young girls. Stars and Stripes coveeage here.
And I am every Navy commander that has made a port visit in the Phillipines is over-noted that so-called Fat Leonard is being held without bail and thus has every incentive to sing like canary. La Times report here.
I did this quickly so please arson any bad descriptions and the block quotes.
H/t Defense News EB
Here is WaPo coverage of the latest turn in the Marine Corps’ bad publicity machine that. Maj. James Weirick has filed a complaint with the Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees classification procedures across the federal government.
The former head of that office, J. William Leonard, endorsed his complaint.
“I am extremely concerned that the integrity of the classification system continues to be severely undermined by the complete absence of accountability in instances such as this clear abuse of classification authority,” he wrote in a letter to the agency’s directory, John P. Fitzpatrick.
And the drama continues.
Here is the Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s coverage of the preferral in the case of First Sergeant Michael Barbera:
An Army small-kill team leader is charged by military investigators with two counts of murder in the fatal shootings of two deaf, unarmed Iraqi youths in March 2007, an incident first made public in a Tribune-Review investigative report last year.
Then-Staff Sgt. Michael Barbera is accused of killing Ahmad Khalid al-Timmimi, 15, and his brother Abbas, 14, as they tended to cattle in a palm grove near As Sadah, an Iraqi village about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad.
Barbera, 31, who was later promoted to sergeant first class, also is charged with lying to his commanders, directing fellow soldiers to lie to military investigators and making a threatening phone call to a civilian in an effort to keep what happened from becoming public. He was charged on Wednesday at Alaska’s Fort Richardson and is in the process of being flown to Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, where he will undergo a formal arraignment — called an Article 32 hearing in the military.
Aside from the flub in the last sentence of that quote, the Tribune-Review has apparently been all over this story, running a multi-page onvestigaticlve report that they claim led to the Army re-opening the case. See the Trib’s prior coverage here.